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Car Bomb Rocks Beirut, Former Minister Assassinated

Lebanese officials say a car bombing in central Beirut has killed former Finance Minister Mohamad Chatah and at least three others.

Chatah, a Sunni Muslim, was a respected economist and senior advisor to ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri. He previously served as the Lebanese ambassador to Washington.

The explosion, which occurred near government headquarters, left a thick cloud of black smoke rising above the city skyline. Video and social media showed terrified people running from the scene, with cars on fire and windows blown out.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing. Lebanon has seen a recent increase in violence related to the bloody Syrian civil war that has spilled over the border.

Chatah was an outspoken critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. His last message on Twitter, posted about hour before the car bombing, was critical of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which has supported President Assad in the country's civil war.

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